Hindi Diwas 2019: Interesting facts, why Hindi is not India’s national language and why Gulab jamun, samosa, jalebi are not Hindi words
Hindi as we know and speak it today emerged from various different stages, known by different names during each stage. The earliest form was known as Apabhramsa. Kalidasa, a famous Indian literary playwright, wrote a romantic play in Apabhramsa titled Vikramorvashiyam in 400 AD.
The Devanagri script came into existence in the 11th century. The earliest evidence of Hindi printing can be found in Grammar of the Hindoostani Language, a book written by John Gilchrist, published in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) in 1796. The book deals with the Hindustani language, a common form of Hindi and Urdu and contains traces of Hindi/Devanagari texts. Prem Sagar, meaning Ocean of Love, by Lalloo Lal, published in 1805 is considered the first published Hindi book and tells the deeds of Lord Krishna. Literary Hindi is written in the Devanagri script and has been strongly influenced by Sanskrit. Its standard form is based on the Khari Boli dialect, belonging to the north and east of Delhi.
The eighth schedule to the Constitution of India states the official languages of India which includes Kashmiri, Malayalam, Sindhi, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu among other languages to make a total of 22 languages as the official language of India. In the Constitution’s Article 343, Hindi was declared as an official language, and not a national language. In the year 2010, the Gujarat High Court had dismissed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) seeking direction for mandatory printing of details namely price, ingredients, date of manufacturing of goods in Hindi. “Normally, in India, a majority of the people have accepted Hindi as a national language and many people speak Hindi and write in Devanagari script but there is nothing on record to suggest that any provision has been made or order issued declaring Hindi as a national language of the country,” the court had stated.
Interesting facts about Hindi:
- Hindi is the official language of India, along with English. There are several regional languages in India namely Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Assamese, but Hindi is spoken by the majority as their first language.
- Hindi is the main language of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. It’s also widely understood in other states of India.
- Braj Bhasha, an important literary medium from 15 Century AD to 19 Century AD is often treated as a Hindi dialect. Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Chhattisgarhi, Garhwali, Haryanawi, Kanauji, Kumaoni, Magahi, and Marwari are a few others. However, these dialects of Hindi are more accurately described as regional languages belonging to the ‘Hindi zone’ or the ‘Hindi belt’, an area that covers northern India and continues uptil Madhya Pradesh.
- Hindi is also spoken in a few countries outside India such as Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago.
- The language is spoken by near about 425 million people as their first language and around 120 million as a second language.
- Maithili, included in the eighth schedule of the Constitution of India along with 21 other languages, became a national language making a total of 48 officially accepted dialects in Hindi.
- Hindi was derived from the Persian word Hind, meaning ‘land of the Indus River’. Invaders from Central Asia named the language of the region Hindi meaning ‘language of the land of the Indus River’ in 11 Century AD.
- Bihar was the first Indian state to adopt Hindi as its official language.
- Hindi is one of the seven languages that can be used to make web addresses.
- Words in Hindi are written as they are pronounced because every character has a different sound.
- The Hindi language uses Devanagri script. It has 33 consonants and 11 vowels. The Hindi alphabetical table is called Varnmala, meaning garland of letters.
- All Hindi nouns have genders, either masculine or feminine, unlike in English. Adjectives and verbs change according to one’s gender.
- Letters in Hindi are illusion-free, meaning that the mirror image of any Hindi letter will never give you another letter.
- Hindi borrows many words from Persian and Arabic languages. The Mughals enriched the Hindi vocabulary with several Urdu words during their reign.
- Raja Harishchandra, the first Indian talkie is also considered the first Hindi film, made by Dadasaheb Phalke, and was released in 1913.
- The Hindi typewriters entered the markets as early as 1930.
- Words like Yoga, Guru, Karma, Cheetah, Bungalow, Avatar are all actually Hindi words.
- In 2017, 70 Indian words made their entry into the Oxford English Dictionary. These included words from Telugu, Urdu, Tamil, Hindi and Gujarati. This consists of words like Chutney, Devi, Gulab Jamun, Jugaad, Surya Namaskar to name a few.
Gulab Jamun, Samosa, Jalebi and other words and where they come from:
Gulab Jamun originated in Persia known by Luqmat al-qadi. It later came to be known as Gulab Jamun, derived from the Persian words ‘gol’ meaning flower and ‘ab’ meaning water.
A favourite evening snack and sometimes even a breakfast item in many Indian households, Samosas are stuffed with boiled potatoes and a varieties of spices. They came to India with the Arab invaders in 10th Century. It also finds non-vegetarian variants where the stuffing can be chicken or other meat and also a sweet version filled with sweetened khoya and dry fruits.
Also originating from the Middle East, Jalebi was originally known as Zulbia. It was brought by Persian invaders to India. Jaangiri and Imartee are versions of jalebi as well.
Kidney beans also known as Rajma was first grown in Mexico and transported to Europe by the Portuguese. The food item was then brought to India through the south-western coast of India. All lovers of Rajma chawal have years of history to thank for this wonderful addition to the Indian cuisine.
Another staple of the Indian household, Dal chawal or Dal Bhaat was first invented in Nepal. While white steamed rice is a common factor, the dals are aplenty and can be cooked in various fashions. Papad or Papadum, achaar or pickle, thinly-sliced fried potatoes, marinaded brinjals fried before serving hot are some tasty accompaniments. Dal and chawal combinations also is where khichdi, India’s unofficial national dish originated from which tastes wonderful with pickles, papadums and definitely a dollop of ghee. Khichdi is being globally promoted by the government of India as ‘queen of all foods’.
Pav or pao is a small loaf of bread, introduced by the Portuguese in India. Pavs can be made with all types of flours but it’s commercially made with maida or all purpose flour. Pavs became a fast lunchtime dish for textile mill workers in Mumbai back in the 1850s and since has given way to popular combinations like vada pav, pav bhaji, samosa pav, dabeli, keema pav, misal pav to name a few.